Written by: Dave Cantrell
Continuing her triumphant, highly welcome return to music – putative ‘debut‘ Western Holiday appeared in summer 2014 – Karen Haglof, former Band of Susans and Crackers guitarist (and one-time collaborator with Rhys Chatham among others) celebrates her October 29th birthday by premiering the first track “Chains” from upcoming album Perseverance and Grace, due in early 2016. Having veered away from music and become a hematologist/oncologist, Haglof was inspired to write and perform again by the untimely passing of long-standing friend and mentor Jeff Hill. Add to that the impetus inherent in having to inform patients of what limited time they have left and the decision to pick up the guitar again was essentially made for her. The results on Western Holiday were marvelous and judging by what we hear here, the ante has indisputably been raised. Once again benefiting from the assistance of bassist/producer Steve Almaas and drummer CP Roth, as well the mixing prowess of Mitch Easter, the guitarist’s work just pops here, rolling along with a Replacements crunch hitched to an effortless Kinksian melody that we’ve had on repeat all day here in the SEM office. Appropriate, then, that her next album’s called Perseverance and Grace, since, on the strength of this first track, it’s going to take a fair amount of both to withstand the months-long wait for its release. Ah well, so goes the rock’n’roll life, right? But in the meantime, happy birthday, Karen Haglof, and thanks for the birthday present.